Speaking for the Trees

Written by Kylie Stackis
arbor day
Dr. Seuss’s The Lorax  “speaks for the trees.” I speak for the trees too, although I’m not quite as fluent. In my fellowship at the Shi Center, I’ve investigated Furman’s unique and sustainable landscapes. Furman is trying to achieve official status as an arboretum, which means value on trees in these landscapes is especially important. As a Southeastern university, Furman has a lot of trees, and my goal is to transform those trees into an educational tool besides the traditional paper and pencil.
Most of the trees at Furman are native to the Southeast United States. In fact, near the Townes Science Building, Dr. Ranson (EES) and Dr. Pollard (BIO) have worked to create a special landscape that showcases South Carolinian geology and botany. The Rock and Botanical Garden demonstrates the progression of rocks and flora from the mountains to the coast of South Carolina. The project is ongoing, and Dr. Ranson (the creator) plans to acquire several more rock types to complete the example of distinct geologic areas. The garden serves as an educational tool especially for Earth and Environmental Science Majors, but also, as Dr. Ranson has noticed, for SCOPES camps that come to Furman in the summer. Using our landscapes as educational tools is what sustainability is all about. What better way to “get back to nature,” as Aldo Leopold once fought for? You can visit this link for more information on the Rock and Botanical Garden:  http://rocks.furman.edu/rockgarden/
Dr. Pollard has also been involved with Bunched Arrowhead conservation in the area. Bunched Arrowhead is a plant species distinct to this particular region of South Carolina. It is not found anywhere else in the world. Furman’s campus hosts a substantial number of these plants, most noticeably in the woods past the Furman Lake Trail. Raising awareness about such a unique species at Furman encourages education, conservation, and stewardship.
Much like these projects, the arboretum will serve as an educational tool for students, faculty, and staff at Furman, and hopefully also for the Greenville and Travelers Rest communities. Trees are often undervalued. Increasingly, however, trees are retaining more value through conservation. For example, studies have found that trees factor into admission rates for colleges (in fact, that was one of the main reasons I decided to come to Furman!). By learning the benefits trees can offer our college community and working to promote trees on our campus, Furman affiliates find pride and value in campus landscapes.
We have prime educational landscapes at our disposal, both current landscapes that continue to develop and future landscapes that will emerge in near years. With arboretum resources and development, I plan to link them all together. People need to know what’s out there. As the Lorax says, “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, Nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

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